Langley, BC – Lukas Svejkovsky scored twice against his former team and the Seattle Thunderbirds defeated the Vancouver Giants, 5-2, Friday at the Langley Events Centre. Meanwhile, Ethan Mittelsteadt also scored, registering his first goal as a T-Bird, as Seattle snapped a two-game losing skid. Seattle returns home to the accesso ShoWare Center to for the rematch Saturday with Vancouver.
The game marked the return to the lineup of a trio of Thunderbirds players. Leading scorer Jared Davidson had missed four games, Henrik Rybinski was out since February 26th, a span of 11-games, and captain Tyrel Bauer returned after a 33-game absence. The returns were welcome news for head coach Matt O’Dette. “It was great. Nice to get Rybby back, nice to get Davy back. Obviously, the big man (Bauer) on the back end was a huge lift for us and all three of those guys played well for us tonight.”
Seattle (37-17-4-2) used their power play to build a 3-1 lead through the first period. Skating with a two-man advantage, Svejkovsky put the T-Birds on the board at 4:48, with Sam Knazko and Davidson assisting. On the ensuing 5-on-4 Reid Schaefer potted his 30th of the season at 5:24, with the assists going to Rybinski and Kevin Korchinski. Just three minutes later Svejkovsky tallied his second power play goal of the period. Knazko and Davidson both had their second helpers.
Of the early power play success, O’Dette said it was a nice way to get the offense going. “It was nice to have some of our (injured) power play guys back. It obviously helped us. It was a nice way to start the game.”
Vancouver got on the board at the 13:35 mark of period one on a Damien Palmieri goal, then pulled within one with a power play marker of their own at 11:41 of the second period from Ethan Semeniuk. Mittelsteadt restored Seattle’s two-goal lead when he tallied four minutes later. The assists on the goal went to Korchinski and Jeremy Hanzel. “It was really good. I really nice shift by those guys,” said O’Dette. “Really hungry on pucks down low, winning battles. A tenacious shift that led to a goal.”
There was no scoring in the third period until the Giants pulled their goaltender late. Davidson then jumped on a loose puck in the Thunderbirds zone and skated down ice, depositing the puck into the empty net with just under a minute remaining. The goal was Davidson’s 30th of the season, tying him with Schaefer for the team lead.
Thomas Milic turned aside 22-shots to earn the win in net. O’Dette said that included a couple of important saves in the game’s opening minutes. “We made a couple of errors there, early. One that led to a breakaway. Milly made a nice play on the back door. It allowed us to get our feet under us and get going.”
After Saturday’s home game with Vancouver, the Thunderbirds finish off the weekend Sunday in Kennewick against the Tri-City Americans.
Jordan Gustafson, who played in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Wednesday in Kitchener, Ontario, missed the game as he deals with an injury. He is listed as day-to-day. The T-Birds were also without Gabe Ludwig, Ryan Gottfried and Lucas Ciona because of injury. Meanwhile Mekai Sanders will miss the rest of the season after suffering a lower body injury last weekend.
Seattle played the game with ten forwards and eight defensemen and used Mittelsteadt, a defenseman by trade as a winger.
The T-Birds ended the night 3-for-4 on the power play and killed off six of seven Vancouver power plays.
Box score: WHL Network